Everbody's free to ride streamlined...
The text below, written by Bill Volk, is a parody of the song "Everybody's Free" (to wear sunscreen), which was taken from a chunk of text floating around the Internet, purported to be from a commencement speech by Kurt Vonnegut. It actually originated in a Chicago Tribune newspaper article by Mary Schmich. While you are reading it, imagine the quasi-dance rhythm and pop undertones of the song in your head. It will all make sense...

Recumbent Riders and Designers of the class of '99: Ride Streamlined.

If I could offer you only one tip for the future, streamlining would be it. The aerodynamic benefits of streamlining have been proved by scientists, whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience.

I will dispense this advice now.

Enjoy the power and beauty of your glutes. Oh, never mind. You will not understand the power and beauty of your glutes until they've faded. But trust me, after a 200 mile ride, you'll think back to the first hill you sprinted up and recall in a way you can't grasp now how much pain lay before
you and how fabulous you really felt.

You are not as fast as you imagine.

Don't worry about a puncture. Or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to convince a roadie that a recumbent can be faster and more comfortable. The real troubles in your ride are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind, like running over a bunch of nails at
4p.m. on some idle Tuesday.

Blow past one roadie every day who dares you.


Don't be reckless with other people's recumbents. Don't put up with people who are reckless with yours.


Don't wash your tires with gasoline.

Sometimes you're ahead, sometimes you're behind. The race is long and, in the end, it's only with the same fellow who kicked your butt last time.

Remember "cool bike" comments you receive. Forget the laughter. If you succeed in doing this, you should get your ears checked.

Keep your old mile logs. Throw away your old bike shop bills.


Don't feel guilty if you don't know what kind of recumbent you want to build. The most interesting people I know didn't know 20 minutes before they started welding what they wanted to build. Some of the most interesting builders still don't know.

Get plenty of Cliff bars.

Be kind to your LBS that doesn't stock recumbents. You'll miss them when they're gone.

Maybe you'll race, maybe you won't. Maybe you'll win, maybe you won't. Maybe you'll do the 200m at 40, maybe you'll win the Decimach at 75 mph.Whatever you do, don't congratulate yourself too much, or berate yourself either. You'll get beat by Andres Wiegel anyway. So will everyone else.

Enjoy your bike. Use it every way you can. Don't be afraid of it or of what other people think of it. It's the greatest instrument you'll ever own.

Train, even if you have nowhere to do it but your living room.

Read the directions, but don't follow them.

Do not read normal bicycling magazines. They will only make you feel superior.

Get some new brake pads. You never know when they'll be gone for good.

Be nice to your chainrings. They're your best link to your power and the part most likely to stick in the door of the next car to cut you off.

Understand that riders come and go, but with a precious few you should draft. Work hard to bridge the gap between you and the pack of roadies up ahead, because the older you get, the more you need people you can wheelsuck.

Ride in New York City once, but leave before it maims you. Live in Northern California once, but leave before Zach cuts your seat down to size.


Accept certain inalienable truths: Prices will rise. Cannondale will be rumored to have a recumbent. You, too, will get a trike. And when you do, you'll fantasize that when you were young, parts were compatible, potholes were smaller and Campangnola ruled the planet.

Disinfect your Camelback Bladders.

Don't expect any narrow tires to support you. Maybe you have a tire liner. Maybe you'll have a thorn tube. But you never know when either one might run out of air.

Don't mess too much with your seat or by the time you've ridden 40 it will feel like 85.

Be careful whose recumbents you buy, but be a pain to those that ship late.

Grabbing an old bike from the dumpster is a form of nostalgia. Dissecting it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, welding it up, painting over the ugly parts and riding it for it's worth.

But trust me on the streamlining.

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